"Beyond the Shores We Know" - Insights from Casey Sharpe
Poor Quality Comments Are Your Content

Opportunity vs. Vanity Scams

"Congratulations.  You have been nominated as a participant!"

Today another "opportunity" arrived in my mail box.  Really!

Magazine-Front-Cover-ScamThis opportunity was for a "FRONT COVER 4-page feature" of my work.  And if I act quickly, the standard $3,500 participation fee for the FALL issue will be discounted to only $2,500! The email continued: "This unique opportunity can assist you in creating the necessary exposure for your process and practice by getting your work where the targeted demographic can see it."

BEWARE!!  Such opportunities ARE NOT unique. But, unfortunately, far too many questionable "opportunities" are offered to artists and makers who are all too eager for a chance to gain visibility for their work.

I recently saw another "opportunity" circulating within the arts and crafts community with a polished, refined website. The website shows beautiful work.  However, not all the images on the website are actual participants.

The email was very clever suggesting that the recipient was "nominated" for participation. [Wouldn't you feel complimented?]  Participation on the website includes publication in an attractive book which you are not required to buy.  [Watch out for this trap because participants often purchase the book to see their work in print.] The book fee becomes an additional source of income for the sponsor in addition to the entry fees.

Envelope-with-nomination-3In my opinion such "opportunities" show all the hallmarks of a "pay to play" vanity ploy.  These internet versions of "Who's Who" books should realistically be called "who cares?".  This is no more than a web version of a vanity gallery. I get upset to learn that numerous artists and makers are being exploited because they so desperately want visibility for their work.

Here are some red flags for future reference:

  • Fees are paid to an international account. 
  • The "prize money" on this site is not specific.  
  • They offer a certificate which is completely worthless. Who cares about a certificate?
  • An bonus offer for postcards is baloney. You could print those yourself. 

Before you hand your precious money to any third party, pause for a little introspection.  With a little thought, I would bet that you could easily use that money much more effectively to create your own visibility. 

And that is the point .... create your own opportunity.

Join the organizations that you know support artists and makers like you.  

Volunteer to organize an exhibition with a marketing campaign and website.

Print your own postcards and mail them out.

Start a newsletter or blog with quality content.

Envision more. Get professional quality images of your work. Get the standard shots and try a dramatic experiment. 

Submit your quality images to magazines that are appropriate for your work and your audience.

Optimize the images so they look great on the web. 

Work on some search engine optimization for your own website with simple methods that really work. To this end, I will be sharing simple SEO tools for artists and makers.

Put your money where it is an investment in your commuity instead of some random organization's pockets. 

Tat Roach Flower Pin Brooch from recycled tin cans and plastic by Harriete Estel Berman

Tat Roach Trap Flower Brooch is one of my favorites. Made from recycled tin cans and post-consumer plastic waste by Harriete Estel Berman  is says everything about making from old to look new again.